03/26/2011 10:51AM

Golden Shaheen: Rocket Man ends string of near-misses by overtaking Euroears

Andrew Watkins
Rocket Man, second in this same race a year ago, draws clear to win the $2 million Golden Shaheen by 2 1/4 lengths.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – In his last four Group 1 appearances, Rocket Man had finished second by a head, second by a neck, second by a half-length, and second by a neck. Ouch.

Saturday night in the $2 million Golden Shaheen, a race in which he had been second last year, Rocket Man finally got there. He blasted by pacesetting Euroears in the final 120 yards and drew away to win by 2 1/4 lengths.

“He’s been unlucky a few times,” said trainer Patrick Shaw.

Rocket Man, ridden by Felix Coetzee, broke alertly and took up a tracking position in second place as Euroears, as is his wont, set sail for the early lead. But the front end has so far been no place to be on Meydan’s Tapeta surface this World Cup Night. Euroears set slow fractions of 24.2 seconds for his first 400 meters and 47.36 for the 800, and at the top of the stretch he had a couple lengths on Rocket Man. But when the Australian-bred, Far East-campaigned Rocket Man came to him, Euroears had no answer. The final time for the 1,200 meters, or about six furlongs, was a modest 1:11.28.

Rocket Man paid $3.60 as the 4-5 favorite in United States betting pools.

“He works faster than that all the time at home,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “The surface didn’t really suit him. He ran a great race despite that.”

Sunny King finished third, a neck behind Euroears, with Green Birdie another neck back in fourth. Kinsale King, the 2010 Golden Shaheen winner, was scratched earlier in the day with swelling in his foreleg.